Page 9 - ME News - Spring 2020
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ME PhD Candidate Wins Campus-Wide
Graduate Teaching Award
Gillian McDonald was awarded the Aaron and Anna Beek Graduate Student Teaching Award
for her excellent teaching in in ME2011: Intro to Engineering and her work toward enhancing the learning experience for undergraduate students Nominations were made by undergraduate students and judged by other teaching graduate students “I’m extremely appreciative to be recognized
and especially grateful for the students I had the opportunity to teach ” said McDonald “Without the students’ constant contributions
and willingness to learn the course wouldn’t have been nearly as impactful They played a a a a a major role in in in in helping me me learn how to to become an effective instructor in in in in addition to the guidance provided by Professor Professor Will Durfee and Assistant Professor Professor Tim Kowalewski Seeing the the students’ progress come to fruition in in their end- of-semester robots was easily the most rewarding experience I’ve had as as as an instructor and changed my perspective of teaching for the best ” Q&A with Gillian McDonald Q: How do you think students respond to the robotics element of ME2011?
A: The robotics element of the the the course is a a hit among the the the students Throughout the the the semester I would say a a a a a majority of of the students experience a a a a a wide range of of emotions — from nervousness over how they will make a a a robot with $50 to excitement as their ideas become reality to to frustration as as they debug and fine-tune to to pride when they get to display their many hours of of work The process is is very reflective of of a a a true engineering project and along the way students become masters of wiring circuits programming microcontrollers controlling motors prototyping and communicating Q: What do do you think ME does particularly well in in in teaching robotics?
A: Will Durfee and and Tim Kowalewski have invested massive amounts of time (and likely blood sweat and tears) creating the well-oiled machine that is ME2011 The course gives students the opportunity to learn robotics and engineering skills that can’t be obtained from reading a a a a textbook or listening to a a a a lecture In my opinion ME2011 makes UMN stand out from other universities in that the the course offers more hands-on learning than traditional robotics courses Q: What is is your speciality as a a a a roboticist?
A: Soft Soft robotics Soft Soft robots robots differ greatly from traditional robots robots in that they are made from compliant materials allowing them to to conform to to and interact safely with their environment In many senses the compliance of of soft robots turns traditional robotics approaches on their head yet the the the overarching goal is still the the the same — to carry out a a a a a a a a series of actions automatically while utilizing compliance as a a a a a a a benefit 9

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